Dell for the first time is using an Intel processor in its Wyse thin clients, which are used in virtualised creative environments such as those based on Nvidia's GRID platform. In these setups – which are gaining popularity with VFX and animation firms – creative applications run on high-performance servers instead of the traditional workstations under artists' desks. Thin clients sit on the desks and the applications are 'virtuailsed' to these from the server, with performance divided up among them as needed.

The Wyse Intel-based 3000 series thin client, which starts at US$429 (£around £260) and is available now, runs on a dual-core Celeron processor based on the Bay Trail architecture. The entry-level thin client offers 3D graphics, said Dan O'Farrell, senior director for product marketing, cloud client computing at Dell.

The dual-core Bay Trail chip in the Intel-based thin client "packs enterprise-grade performance," Dell said in a blog entry.

The Intel-based thin client has Microsoft's Windows Embedded Standard 7 OS. It can run most virtual desktop or cloud applications, but not high-end multimedia applications that are typically offloaded to workstation-style clients, O'Farrell said.

"We're not targeting it at the high-end power users," O'Farrell said.

Better performance for thin clients

Dell's 3000-series thin clients currently have ARM and AMD processors, but the Intel chip will represent a significant performance upgrade, O'Farrell said. Bay Trail chips are largely used in tablets, but higher-performing versions have been used in low-cost laptops and desktops.

The Intel-based thin client provides four times the application performance and two times the graphics performance of its predecessor, Wyse C-class C90LE7, O'Farrell said.

It also has 16GB of flash storage, 4GB of DDR3 memory and Gigabit Ethernet. It connects to monitors through a serial port or DVI display connector.

Thin clients are virtual desktops with minimal hardware that can run applications from a server on a centralised network instead of locally the way PCs operate. More processing power is now being included on thin clients to take processing load off servers.